Brooklyn Bookstores Obey, Defy Trends

05/16/2011 1:12 PM |

A cautionary tale

  • A cautionary tale

Last week, the Post reported that Internet was killing the book store: three-year-old Atlantic Bookshop, on Atlantic Avenue along the Downtown-Cobble Hill border, is closing. “We took a chance, and everything went wrong,” the owner told the paper. “The enemy of a brick-and-mortar bookstore is the Internet,” not just because of e-books—which are jumpin’!!—but because of sales on websites like Amazon.

Two days later, the Post reported that a bookstore in Dyker Heights was celebrating its one-year anniversary. Oh. So, which is it, Post?

Atlantic Bookshop was a used bookstore, a place to grab ubiquitous titles like Leaves of Grass or rarer fare like, the Post mentions, “a 1963 copy of Industrial Ceramics for $50.” But the old-fashioned concept of a bookstore as a place to go and flip through the pages of a book before buying it wasn’t sustainable: the store is closing because business has been bad, not because it’s been priced out (like it had been of its location across the river, where it was called 12th Street Books).

Meanwhile, when Boulevard Books opened last June, it promised “the immersive experience required to succeed these days,” with a lounge and garden in addition to its shelves of product. That is, it made a point to become a part of its community, which hadn’t ever had a bookstore in recent memory. This has, apparently, been the key to its success; “Your acceptance as a community have been the core of Boulevard’s survival,” the owner recently wrote to her customers. (Such a connection also seems to help some of the borough’s other book sellers, like Book Court, Greenlight and Unnameable Books.)

It seems to be that bookstores can still succeed in Brooklyn these days—you just have to offer something more than what the Internet does.